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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Sugar industry death warned,
lobby vs. liberalization urged


The proposed liberalization of sugar imports by the country’s economic managers will cause the death of the sugar industry, Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. warned yesterday.

The government plans to liberalize sugar importation this year, that is a raw material in a number of potential export products, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said at a press conference last week.

“Sugar in the Philippines is very expensive compared to the global rate, so we plan to deregulate or relax (the sector),” Diokno said, adding that this will be implemented within this year.

Marañon stressed the need for sugar industry stakeholders and all Negrenses to unite in a lobby against such move, or the whole Negros will suffer.

It is easy for the country’s economic managers to make decisions from their air-conditioned offices at the expense of the country’s agriculture sector, he said.

“Sad to say, the poorest of the poor are our farmers and fisherfolk,” the governor said, adding that the economic managers should instead think of ensuring the survival of the country’s agriculture sector.

Enrique Rojas, president of the National Federation of Sugar Planters, said, “This proposal threatens the livelihood of five million Filipinos who are directly and indirectly dependent on the sugar industry. We hope that President Duterte will not allow this to happen.”

“We are still consulting with all stakeholders, including millers, ARBs and farm workers, so that we can come up with a united stand on the issue,” Rojas said.

“We will also consider enlisting the help of our local and national officials, so that we can explain to them the dangers of the proposed liberalization of sugar importation,” he said.

If sugar industry stakeholders will not exert a concerted effort to oppose this proposal, it will kill the sugar industry, which is the sole source of income for hundreds of thousands of marginal sugarcane farmers and farm workers, Rojas said.*


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